Tag: Chris Coste

2009 one last time

We won’t have to wait that much longer to actually see who’s going to be on the Phillies opening day roster, so here’s my final guess.

Still looks like ten hitters we know for sure are on the squad:


Player

Position
1
Ryan Howard

1B
2 Chase Utley
2B
3
Jimmy Rollins

SS
4
Pedro Feliz

3B
5
Shane Victorino

OF
6
Jayson Werth

OF
7
Raul Ibanez

OF
8
OF
9
Carlos Ruiz
C
10 C
11
Eric Bruntlett

UT
12
Greg Dobbs

3B/OF
13
UT
14

Assuming the Phils start the year with 13 hitters, which I think they will, there are three spots left. One has to go to a catcher and another to a fourth outfielder.

The top candidates for the three spots look to include Marcus Giles, Miguel Cairo, Pablo Ozuna, Ronny Paulino, Chris Coste, John Mayberry, Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins.

Of the three spots, one has to go to either Paulino or Coste. Jenkins is a strong front-runner for the second. I think Jenkins is on the team as the fourth outfielder, partly because he’s harder to trade than Stairs because of his contract. He is also far better defensively.

One of Coste or Paulino has to make the team as the second catcher along with Ruiz. Both can be sent to the minors if they’re still in the organization when the season starts and both have been awful this spring. Paulino has hit just 185/267/333 in 27 at-bats. Coste has been slowed by injury and gone just 2-for-18 (.111) with two singles.

I’ve been saying all along that I thought Paulino would make the team. He has gotten a big chance this spring and done nothing with it. Multiple reports, including this one, suggest the Phillies are looking to trade Paulino. The linked article suggests Robert Andino as possible fruit of a Paulino trade. Ew. I would be a little surprised to see Paulino traded, I’ve been assuming Coste is the guy they want to trade. I’m going to flip on this one nonetheless and guess Coste at this point.

That leaves one spot for Cairo, Ozuna, Paulino, Giles, Mayberry or Stairs. I don’t think the Phils will keep three catchers, especially given how badly Paulino has hit this spring. Giles also got a chance, but he has hit just 182/289/273 in 33 at-bats this spring. Despite his solid 279/323/525 line this spring, I think Mayberry is going to the minors. His .323 on-base percentage shouldn’t be overlooked, given that his career on-base percentage in the minors is .330.

I would be more surprised to see the Phils keep Ozuna than Cairo. Ozuna has actually outhit Cairo. Pablo has been on fire this spring and put up a 364/432/455 line in 33 at-bats compared to an also impressive 302/348/535 line for Cairo over 43 at-bats. My guess is if it’s one or the other it will be Cairo rather than Ozuna, mostly just based on the fact that the Phils have given Cairo more time this spring.

That leaves Stairs. I would guess that he will not be with the organization when the season starts. If he is, though, he’s on the team, either in the spot I just gave to Cairo or as the 14th hitter with the Phils going with 11 pitchers.

Ten of the Phillies pitching spots are likely to be filled by these guys:


Player

Position
1
Cole Hamels (left)

SP
2
Brett Myers (right)

SP
3
Joe Blanton (right)

SP
4
Jamie Moyer (left)

SP
5
SP
6
Ryan Madson (right)
 RP
7
Chan Ho Park (right)

SP/RP
8
Clay Condrey (right)

RP
9
Scott Eyre (left)

RP
10
Chad Durbin (right)

RP
11  
RP
12
Brad Lidge (right)

CLOSER

In part because of the minor injury problems with Hamels and Park, I think the Phillies will go with 12 pitchers to start the season despite having three off-days before they play their eighth came of the season. Especially with Hamels having been unable to work up his pitch counts, I think the Phils will want to carry seven relievers.

I think Park won the fifth starter’s job this spring. I think Happ is still on the team to pitch out of the pen as the second lefty. That assumes the Phillies do not add another lefty before the start of the season.

That leaves one spot, assuming the Phils carry 12 pitchers. I think that goes to Majewski or Koplove and both have been very good this spring. Majewski has a 3.27 ERA and a 1.27 ratio in 11 innings. Koplove has pitched less, just 6 1/3 innings, but thrown to a 1.42 ERA with a 1.11 ratio. I think it’s interesting that Majewkski has thrown significantly more innings than Koplove, which may mean the Phils are leaning that way. I think Koplove has a better chance to make a significant positive contribution this season, though, so that’s the way I’ll guess.

That slot seems like it would be the one to go if the Phils carried just 11 pitchers, presumably with Stairs being the 14th hitter. The other issue is that if Stairs does get traded, the deal may bring in a player that will start the year with the team and take up a roster spot. That move would also presumably knock off Majewski or Koplove. It could also knock off Happ for the first few games of the season if he proved to be the winner of the fifth starter competition rather than a guy who will pitch out of the pen.

Here’s my guess then:

Hitters (13): Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Ibanez, Victorino, Werth, Ruiz, Bruntlett, Dobbs, Jenkins, Coste, Cairo.

Pitchers (12): Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Park, Madson, Happ, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Koplove, Lidge.

The Phillies did not play yesterday. They play the Yankees today with Carlos Carrasco expected to pitch.

Philliesflow still has a Twitter page.


First pitch pitch

Getting ahead of the batter 0-1 instead of behind him 1-0 is hugely important for a pitcher. One way you can tell is by looking at the results of plate appearances in which the pitcher got ahead or behind.

The chart below shows the batting average and slugging percentage that batters hit to against the Phillies in plate appearances where the pitcher got behind 1-0 or ahead 0-1. Also included are the results of the plate appearances where the ball was put in play on the first pitch (no on-base percentage is included because a batter cannot walk on the first pitch of his plate appearance):

firstpitch1.jpg

So it’s good to get ahead. Duh. The curious thing, of course, is that the chart makes it look like the pitcher is better off when the count is 1-0 than if the batter put the ball in play on the first pitch. I don’t think you want to jump to that conclusion, though. In the same way the batter can’t walk on the first pitch, he also can’t strike out. If you take all the strikeouts away from the plate appearances, opposing hitters hit .345 and slugged .551 against the Phils in ’08 when they got ahead 1-0.

I don’t want to profess to have any idea what goes through a pitcher’s head when delivering the first pitch of plate appearance. I would guess, though, that the intention is rarely to deliver ball one. I would also guess that it is, by a wide margin, to throw strike one rather than have the batter hit the ball in a way that creates an out — the consequence of that is putting the ball over the plate where it can be hit at a time the batter expects just that.

In 2008, 11 of the 16 NL teams saw batters hit to a lower OPS in the plate appearances where the pitcher got behind 1-0 than the plate appearances where the plate appearance was over with one pitch. The Phillies were one of the five teams that saw batters hit to a lower OPS in plate appearances that ended in one pitch.

The five teams that did put up a better OPS against the batters that got ahead of them 1-0 than the batters whose plate appearances ended on one pitch were the Phils, Dodgers, Rockies, Marlins and Braves. Every one of those teams, like the Phillies, still saw batters hit to a higher batting average and slugging percentage on the first pitch plate appearances than they did on the plate appearances when they got behind 1-0 (again, perhaps in large part because you cannot strike out on the first pitch).

So a lot of teams are getting hurt on their plate appearances that end on the first pitch, presumably for the benefit of getting ahead in the count. All of the teams in the NL did not benefit equally by getting ahead in the count, though. The table below lists, for each NL team, the OPS that opposing batters hit to against them in plate appearances when they got ahead and behind in the count:

Team 1-0 PA OPS 0-1 PA OPS Diff
HOU 2440 .908 2915 .611 .297
FLA 2678 .886 2890 .592 .294
MIL 2589 .855 2871 .583 .272
PHI 2554 .858 2897 .610 .248
ATL 2628 .868 2931 .645 .223
LAD 2478 .800 2951 .580 .220
SDP 2608 .829 2938 .609 .220
STL 2524 .857 2997 .644 .213
SFG 2710 .830 2956 .624 .206
PIT 2888 .892 2839 .693 .199
CIN 2636 .886 3055 .688 .198
CHI 2551 .784 2937 .586 .198
ARI 2332 .798 3038 .602 .196
COL 2640 .872 2944 .676 .196
NYM 2627 .820 2990 .627 .193
WSN 2676 .853 2925 .677 .176

So the Astros had the biggest difference in the OPS that batters who got ahead 1-0 put up against them and the batters who got behind 0-1. Batters who got ahead 1-0 hit 294/399/509 (.908 OPS) against them and batters who got behind 0-1 hit 222/265/345 (.611 OPS). The difference between the two is .297. At the other end of the list was the Nats, who saw hitters that got ahead hit 274/394/459 (.853) and hitters who got behind hit 248/293/384 (.677) — that difference still seems dramatic, but was the smallest of the 16 NL teams.

The Phillies, meanwhile, were near the top of the list in terms of the benefit they got by OPS by getting ahead of hitters on the first pitch. So at least they got something out of all those first-pitch home runs they gave up.

Yesterday the Phillies scored three runs in the top of the ninth to beat Toronto 7-6. They are 10-11 in spring training.

Park got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs over four innings on four hits and a walk. He struck out seven and has a spring ERA of 2.87. Durbin and Madson each threw a scoreless inning for the Phils. Majewski went two innings and allowed two runs on four hits and a walk, pushing his spring ERA up to 3.27.

Park has amazing strikeout and walk numbers this spring training. He’s thrown 15 2/3 innings and allowed one walk while striking out 18.

Back from the World Baseball Classic, Rollins and Victorino were atop the lineup for the Phils. They both went 0-for-2 with a walk. Cairo was 1-for-1 with a walk. He’s hitting .303 this spring. Coste was at DH for the Phils and went 1-for-4 to raise his spring average to .111. Werth was 2-for-3 with his fourth spring home run. Utley hit his first, a two-run shot in the seventh. He’s hitting .278.

The Phillies do not play today.


2009 a fourth time

The Phillies actually play a game today, so I thought it would be a good time to update my guess at who makes the opening day roster.

Not a whole lot has happened since my most recent guess, which came in mid-January:

  • The news about Utley’s health has largely been good. Multiple reports have suggested that he may be ready for the start of the regular season.
  • News about Pedro Feliz’s recovery from back injury has been less encouraging and his readiness for opening day is looking possible but not as sure as some had previously thought.
  • The Phillies signed utility man Miguel Cairo.

It’s very hard to know whether Utley or Feliz are going to be ready to go when the season starts. I’m going to guess they both will at this point. That would give the Phillies ten hitters on the team:


Player

Position
1
Ryan Howard

1B
2 Chase Utley
2B
3
Jimmy Rollins

SS
4
Pedro Feliz

3B
5
Shane Victorino

OF
6
Jayson Werth

OF
7
Raul Ibanez

OF
8
OF
9
Carlos Ruiz
C
10 C
11
Eric Bruntlett

UT
12
Greg Dobbs

3B/OF
13
UT
14

Three spots left. One has to go to a catcher and another to a fourth outfielder.

The top candidates for the three spots look to be Jason Donald, John Mayberry, Marcus Giles, Miguel Cairo, Ronny Paulino, Chris Coste, Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins.

Of the three spots one has to go to either Paulino or Coste. Jenkins is a strong front-runner for the second. I think Jenkins is on the team as the fourth outfielder, partly because he’s harder to trade than Stairs because of his contract. He is also far better defensively.

I’ve been saying I think Paulino is the second catcher all along, but my confidence is wavering. I will stick with Paulino, but I do think the chances that Coste makes the team improve as camp progresses without the Phillies adding a right-handed hitter. This article suggests that Coste is the front-runner over Paulino coming into camp.

If Coste were to be the second catcher behind Ruiz, it would solve one of the Phillies other problems in what to do with Coste. They could send him (or Paulino) to the minors, but I would guess they don’t want to. Coste as the backup catcher would presumably kill Paulino’s chances to make the team, but I’m less sure Paulino as the backup catcher would kill Coste’s chances. I think if Coste won the backup catcher spot it would open up the final spot for Giles, Donald or Cairo.

If the final hitter comes from the group above, my guess it would be Coste or Stairs. I don’t think it will, though. I will still guess the Phils make a trade, sending Stairs, or Stairs and Coste, to someone to bring back a right-handed hitter who will take the final hitting spot on the roster.

There are only so many things the Phils can do with Stairs, including putting him on the team, trading him or releasing him. Putting him on the team makes him a sluggish corner outfielder who is the sixth left-handed bat along with Utley, Howard, Ibanez, Jenkins, and Dobbs. Assuming they also will continue to play Bruntlett in the outfield, it would also make him their sixth outfielder. Releasing him, especially since one would think his $1 million contract would make him desirable to other teams, doesn’t seem that likely either. That seems to leave trading him.

If Feliz isn’t ready to go to start the year, my guess is the Phils would go with a Bruntlett/Dobbs platoon at third. It would open another spot on the roster, at least temporarily. I would guess Miguel Cairo, given his experience playing third as well as his ability to play multiple positions, might become a more attractive option for the Phils if that were the case.

Ten of the Phillies pitching spots are likely to be filled by these guys:


Player

Position
1
Cole Hamels (left)

SP
2
Brett Myers (right)

SP
3
Joe Blanton (right)

SP
4
Jamie Moyer (left)

SP
5
SP
6
Ryan Madson (right)
 RP
7
Chan Ho Park (right)

SP/RP
8
Clay Condrey (right)

RP
9
Scott Eyre (left)

RP
10
Chad Durbin (right)

RP
11  
RP
12
Brad Lidge (right)

CLOSER

Two spots left and my guess for each stays the same.

I like Kendrick to win the fifth starter job over Chan Ho Park, JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco. I think Park goes to the pen and Happ joins him as the second lefty along with Eyre.

I will be interested to see if the fifth starter job actually goes to the player of those four who pitches the best in spring training. I think the answer may be no. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem if it’s Happ or Carrasco who pitches the best. Carrasco can’t be too surprised if he starts the year in the minors at age 21 coming off a year when he threw to a 4.32 ERA at Double-A. I think Happ has a good chance to make the team anyway and should have known better than to be left-handed. But if Park, who clearly wants to start, out pitches Kendrick and doesn’t win the spot things could get interesting quickly.

Another possibility is that the Phils could trade Stairs (or, less likely, Jenkins or Coste) to bring in a second lefty. Or they could sign a left-handed reliever. In either of those cases, I think it would really make it a three-way duel for the fifth starter job between Happ, Kendrick and Park rather than Park and Kendrick battling it out.

So here’s my overall guess at this point:

Hitters (13): Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Ibanez, Victorino, Werth, Ruiz, Bruntlett, Dobbs, Paulino, Jenkins and a right-handed hitter not currently with the team.

Pitchers (12): Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Kendrick, Madson, Happ, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Park, Lidge.

Dobbs would like the chance to hit against lefties. He has 55 plate appearances against lefties and 781 against righties for his career.

Victorino will not be playing in the World Baseball Classic.

Jason Donald will start at second base in today’s game against Pittsburgh. Moyer, Blanton, Scott Nestor, Joe Bisenius, Dave Borkowski, Mike Koplove and Jake Woods are expected to pitch for the Phils.


’08 Phils make their case for bullpens without eight guys with an ERA over five

The ’07 Phils actually had 13 guys pitch out of the pen who ended their year with the team with an ERA over 5.00: JD Durbin, Antonio Alfonseca, Clay Condrey, Jose Mesa, Francisco Rosario, Mike Zagurski, Yoel Hernandez, Brian Sanches, Fabio Castro, Kane Davis, John Ennis, Matt Smith and Anderson Garcia. They got it down to five in 2008: Eaton, Kendrick, Gordon, Swindle and Walrond — of that group only Gordon threw more than 11 innings in relief.

Here is the Phillies record by number of runs they scored in 2007:

2007

Runs

W-L

Cumulative W-L
0 0-3 0-3
1 0-8 0-11
2 0-14 0-25
3 4-16 4-41
4 11-12 15-53
5 13-9 28-62
6 15-9 43-71
7 6-0 49-71
8 13-2 62-73
9 10-0 72-73
10 4-0 76-73
>10 13-0 89-73

And here’s what they did in 2008:

2008

Runs

W-L

Cumulative W-L
0 0-8 0-8
1 2-6 2-14
2 3-17 5-31
3 7-16 12-47
4 12-10 24-57
5 17-3 41-60
6 14-5 55-65
7 9-2 64-67
8 16-2 80-69
9 2-1 82-70
10 3-0 85-70
>10 7-0 92-70

There were a lot of significant differences between the 2007 Phillies and the 2008 Phillies. Among the most important were that in 2008 the Phillies scored 799 runs, nearly a hundred runs fewer than they had scored in 2007 when the led the NL with 892. A second was that in 2008 the Phillies had, by ERA, the best bullpen in the NL. This was coming off a year when the bullpen was miserable — in 2007, the Phils’ bullpen ERA of 4.50 was 13th best in the league.

As you would guess, the Phils played more games in 2007 where they scored a large number of runs. In 2007, the Phillies played 42 games in which they scored more than seven runs. In 2008, they played just 31.

In 2007, the Phils used their monster offense to pound their way to some wins. Here are the team’s record in games where they scored eight runs or less in the two seasons:


Record in games where they scored eight runs or less
Year W-L PCT
2007 62-73 .459
2008 80-69 .537

In ’07, the Phils were way under .500 in games where they scored eight runs or fewer. They made up for it with 27 games in which they scored nine or more runs, going 27-0 in those games. In 2008, the Phils played just 13 games where they scored more than eight runs and lost one of those (they went 12-1), but were hugely more successful in the games when they scored eight runs or fewer. They also played more of them — 149 games when they scored eight runs or fewer compared to 135 in 2007.

Finally, you can also see the impact of the improved pen when you look at their results in games where they scored either five or six runs in the game:


Record in games where they scored five or six runs
Year W-L PCT
2007 28-18 .609
2008 31-8 .795

Chris Coste knows he’s a far better defensive catcher than people think.

This says the Phillies are looking at lefty Will Ohman. The linked article also suggests that if Nomar Garciaparra decides to play this year he would be interested in playing for the Phils.


High on leverage

Baseball-Reference tracks high leverage hitting splits. The high leverage concept is based on work by Tom Tango, which is described here. Baseball-Reference suggests that high leverage plays account for about 20% of all plays.

Overall in 2008, Phillies hitters got 6,273 plate appearances in which they hit 255/332/438. Of those, 1,230 plate appearances were tagged as high leverage. In those plate appearances, the Phils as a team hit 247/332/423. A tiny bit worse, but about the same.

Here’s what key Phillies hitters did in high leverage situations in 2008, ranked by OPS:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Burrell 132 280 379 607 986
Dobbs 59 358 407 547 954
Howard 152 265 342 545 888
Feliz 92 291 378 506 884
Werth 102 276 373 448 821
Rollins 104 258 343 404 748
Utley 128 215 315 402 717
Victorino 106 240 305 396 701
Taguchi 19 250 333 313 646
Ruiz 72 238 300 333 633
Coste 74 215 268 323 591
Bruntlett 54 191 269 255 525
Jenkins 62 176 290 216 506

If you compare the player’s OPS in high leverage situations with their OPS overall for the year, there are six players whose OPS in high leverage situations were better than their OPS for the year:

Player High
Leverage OPS
OPS for
Season
Feliz 884 705
Dobbs 954 824
Burrell 986 875
Taguchi 646 580
Ruiz 633 620
Howard 888 881

And seven players from the group whose OPS overall for the year was better than their OPS in high leverage situations:

Player High
Leverage OPS
OPS for
Season
Rollins 748 786
Werth 821 861
Bruntlett 525 594
Victorino 701 799
Coste 591 748
Jenkins 506 694
Utley 717 915

The players at the top of that list have small differences between their OPS in high leverage situations and their OPS overall for the year. Rollins and Werth, for example, have very similar numbers compared to their overall OPS for the year. At the bottom of the list, Utley had a huge difference, posting a .717 OPS in high leverage situations compared to a .915 OPS overall.

Similarly, if you look at the late and close splits for the guys at the bottom of that list, Utley, Coste and Jenkins, the numbers are pretty ugly. For the guys at the top of the list, Feliz, Dobbs and Burrell, the numbers are much better. Late and close plate appearances are ones that come in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.

 
Late and close
Player PA AVG OBP SLG
Feliz 89 313 368 575
Dobbs 56 380 446 560
Burrell 111 295 441 636
Coste 69 220 288 271
Jenkins 63 148 270 204
Utley 117 221 353 347

Article about the outlook for the pen.

This article suggests that Dobbs could fill in at second if Utley doesn’t start the year. That actually seems like a fine idea. A Bruntlett/Dobbs platoon at second would put up pretty nice numbers offensively, the problem being that Dobbs can’t play both second and third at the same time against a righty.

Ad: Ticketcity has 2009 Phillies tickets.


Who’s up?

As a team in 2008 the Phillies got 6,273 plate appearances. Of those, 3,170, about 50.5%, came with the score of the game within one run. As a team they also got 780 of their plate appearances, 12.4%, when the margin of the game was more than four runs.

Not all of the players got the same percentage of their plate appearances when the game was close and when it wasn’t. These are the Phillies who got the highest percentage of their plate appearances with the game within one run — for each player it lists their plate appearances when the game was within a run, their total plate appearances for the year and the percentage of their plate appearances that came when the game was within a run:

 
Within one run
Player PA TPA % of PA
Utley 389 707 55.0
Rollins 337 625 53.9
Werth 256 482 53.1
Victorino 328 627 52.3
Bruntlett 123 238 51.7
Howard 360 700 51.4
Burrell 330 645 51.2
       
Team total 3170 6273 50.5
       
Jenkins 155 322 48.1
Feliz 220 463 47.5
Ruiz 176 373 47.2
Coste 136 305 44.6
Dobbs 101 240 42.1
Taguchi 41 103 39.8

This list obviously reflects who is starting games, but Bruntlett is the guy who sticks out, getting more of his plate appearances than the team average with the game close. This is no doubt partly the result of all the time he got in left, relieving Burrell in close games. In the 123 plate appearances that Bruntlett got with the game within one run, he hit 207/273/297.

And here’s how many plate appearances hitters got when the margin of the game was more than four runs, with the players that got the highest percentage of their plate appearances in games that were not close at the top:

 
Margin > 4 runs
Player PA TPA % of PA
Taguchi 23 103 22.3
Dobbs 40 240 16.7
Coste 48 305 15.7
Bruntlett 35 238 14.7
Jenkins 44 322 13.7
Feliz 59 463 12.7
Victorino 78 627 12.4
       
Team total 780 6273 12.4
       
Howard 85 700 12.1
Ruiz 44 373 11.8
Burrell 75 645 11.6
Utley 79 707 11.2
Rollins 69 625 11.0
Werth 47 482 9.8

Looking at both charts, Dobbs and Coste both get a higher percentage than average of their plate appearances in games that are not close and a lower percentage than average in games that are within a run. Coste’s splits from 2008 based on the score of the game were remarkable. When the margin of the game was more than four runs, he hit 432/479/886, going 19-for-44 with five doubles and five home runs. In his 257 other plate appearances, he hit 230/295/335. Over his career, he’s hit 410/442/672 in 129 plate appearances when the margin is more than four runs and 257/313/392 in his 526 other plate appearances.

I do think it’s unfortunate that a relatively high percentage of Dobbs’ plate appearances came with the score of the game lopsided. He was the opposite of Coste in ’08, pounding the ball to a 326/365/540 line in his 200 plate appearances when the game was within four runs and hitting just 179/175/256 in his 40 plate appearances when the margin was four runs or more.

Bruntlett seems to be present in both extremes, getting higher than average percentages of his plate appearances both in blowouts and games that are within a run, which suggests he’s getting lower than average percentages of his plate appearances in the situations in-between.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged a meeting between Shane Victorino and a fan.

Geoff Jenkins will host a poker event to benefit Jamie Moyer’s foundation.

Ad: Ticketcity has 2009 Phillies tickets.


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